Zidane hails 'phenomenal' Courtois after another clean sheet

By Sports Desk July 10, 2020

Zinedine Zidane praised the "phenomenal" Thibaut Courtois after Real Madrid took another step towards the LaLiga title with a win over Deportivo Alaves.

Madrid kept a clean sheet for the fifth straight game, recording a 2-0 win on Friday to move four points clear of rivals Barcelona with three games remaining.

Zidane lauded Courtois, who made four saves in Madrid's win as Karim Benzema netted a penalty before Marco Asensio's second-half goal.

"He has a very big influence. He is our goalkeeper, what he is doing every game is phenomenal," Madrid coach Zidane told a news conference, via AS.

"It is a matter for everyone when it comes to defending … today, he [Courtois] has been good for us with two or three stops, and then the strength of the entire team.

"We have to continue like this."

Madrid scored a penalty for the third straight game, while the VAR was needed to award Asensio's goal after it was initially ruled out due to an offside decision against Benzema.

As another clean sheet helped Madrid, Zidane said he was happy with his team, who are away to Granada on Monday.

"I'm not worried because the important thing is to win matches," he said.

"We didn't score four or five goals, but because there is an opponent who defends. We scored two goals, one very beautiful in play.

"I am happy and calm with what we are doing."

Related items

  • England manager Southgate keen to blunt JFF ambitions - countries set for battle over fringe players England manager Southgate keen to blunt JFF ambitions - countries set for battle over fringe players

    England manager Gareth Southgate is reportedly keen on blunting bold recruitment ambitions of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), who have targeted a number of players that qualify to play for the Caribbean nation.

    According to recent reports the JFF, through agent Devon Porter, has sought to make contact with a number of players that could qualify to represent the nation in the World Cup qualifiers, by virtue of having Jamaican parents or grandparents. 

    The list is said to include newly promoted Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips, Everton's Mason Holgate, Manchester United's Mason Greenwood, and Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who were all born to Jamaican parents.

    The England manager has requested a meeting with four players born to Jamaican parents including Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips for Friday afternoon.  Southgate is, however, expected to meet with the players in order to assure them of the possibility of playing for their birth country.  The England national football program has been guilty in the past of giving fringe players one of two caps, in order to end the pursuit of other potential nations and never recall the players again. 

    Across England’s top four leagues there are said to be an estimated 124 players of Jamaican ancestry.  English-based Jamaican players played a crucial role in the country securing its only appearance at the FIFA World Cup in 1998.  The Jamaica team has already qualified for the final round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers.  

  • Flick hails Lampard as Bayern aim to finish off Chelsea Flick hails Lampard as Bayern aim to finish off Chelsea

    Hansi Flick has praised Frank Lampard's "extraordinary" impact at Chelsea - but the Bayern Munich boss plans to leave his opposite number dejected for a second successive Saturday.

    Chelsea suffered FA Cup final disappointment last weekend when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's double gave Arsenal the glory at Wembley.

    Now they face the more daunting task of attempting to overturn a 3-0 first-leg deficit against Bayern in Munich, after the German giants scorched to a superb victory at Stamford Bridge in February.

    It would appear a near formality for Bayern to complete their task, but Flick has typically prepared meticulously for the game and says his team will have no trouble in focusing.

    He senses former England midfielder Lampard has the makings of a first-class head coach, so will take nothing for granted at the Allianz Arena.

    "I can say Lampard has been doing an extraordinary job with Chelsea," Flick said.

    "They've managed to qualify for next season's Champions League through the Premier League and they've been pretty successful after the restart.

    "I like the way they play and how they've performed."

    Lampard could not sign players when he took over at Chelsea last July, as the club were under a transfer ban, which has led him to blood a host of young players this term.

    By recently bringing in Timo Werner from RB Leipzig and Ajax's Hakim Ziyech, Chelsea have given an indication of their ambition for next season.

    "It was a difficult situation when he started," Flick said. "But at the end of the season he really performed an extraordinary season with his team."

    Bayern will be without the injured Kingsley Coman and Benjamin Pavard, with Joshua Kimmich expected to again fill in at right-back, with Ivan Perisic and Philippe Coutinho pushing for an attacking role.

    Flick, whose team won the domestic double of the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal, expects Chelsea to be positive and to believe they can turn the tie around, however unlikely that may be.

    "If I would be in the position of the Chelsea manager or Chelsea fan, I would say we have nothing to lose, we will try to give all we have and we'll see," Flick said.

    "We have respect for our opponents. We know Chelsea have a great and also big squad with lots of players who have fantastic potential.

    "I know from my time with the DFB [German Football Federation] how football is played in England.

    "If we look at the development that has been showing for years now, it is unbelievable, it is fantastic, how they bring up new, young players and focus on the youth.

    "Chelsea have a great team filled with a lot of young players with great potential and we will be ready to face them tomorrow."

  • Neuer wants Bayern midfield 'engine' Thiago to stay Neuer wants Bayern midfield 'engine' Thiago to stay

    Manuel Neuer hopes Liverpool target Thiago Alcantara can be persuaded to stay at Bayern Munich, describing him as "our engine in midfield".

    On the eve of the Champions League last-16 second leg against Chelsea, captain and goalkeeper Neuer stressed how important the former Barcelona player has become over seven years at Bayern.

    Thiago has one year left on his Bayern contract and the club would be reluctant to see him leave on a free transfer in 2021.

    One alternative to that prospect would be cashing in on him now, with Premier League champions Liverpool apparently keen on taking him to Anfield.

    Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has praised Thiago, describing him as "a great player", but has declined to speak any further about the Spaniard.

    Asked about the influence of Thiago, and the possibility of him being in his final days as a Bayern player, Neuer stressed he hoped the Chelsea game was not the beginning of the end for the 29-year-old in Munich.

    "I hope that it won't be one of the last matches of Thiago," Neuer said.

    "He had to undergo surgery at the end of the season but now he's back and 100 per cent. He's a very valuable player for us, especially in ball possession. He's very important for us. He's our engine in midfield actually."

    Bayern lead Chelsea 3-0 from the first leg of their European tie, so with home advantage on Saturday they should have little trouble making sure of a quarter-final place.

    Lisbon will stage the Champions League from the last eight onwards.

    Neuer says Bayern are eager to complete a treble, having already won the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal in Germany this season.

    "We have played a good season and a successful season so far," he said. "We're still hungry and still committed. We have the objective right in front of us.

    "We won the league, we won the cup, and now we want to win to achieve this next objective that we have.

    "First we have to overcome Chelsea and then it's the knockout stage. They are very high calibre clubs in this competition. We know from our experiences with the national team, for example, that every mistake could cost a lot and you have to really pay attention.

    "We've worked together very well for three and a half weeks and we want to achieve a lot."

    From the quarter-final stage onwards, it will be a straight knockout event, with two-leg games abandoned to allow the tournament to be completed in the shortest possible time.

    "You can achieve a lot, but of course you can also lose a lot in such a format," Neuer said.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.